The Laak municipal council in Davao de Oro was in dilemma on Monday.
Up for discussion was a proposed resolution by councilor Christopher Juvita that sought to allow the return of face to face classes in the town’s isolated schools.
This was in response to popular clamor by concerned local officials in a town where 49 percent of the population belongs to the indigenous Dibabawon and Mandaya ethnolinguistic groups.
The councilor reported that schoolchildren in these areas were having a hard time coping with the modular classes implemented by the Department of Education. This is because in most cases than not, the parents never had education and could not be relied upon to help their children.
While the municipal council chaired by Mark Anthony Libuangan sympathized, it also noted a standing order by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Diseases banning face to face classes.
It added that President Duterte himself stressed that unless and until a vaccine is found, he will not risk the children going back to school face to face.
In the end, the decision was made to lay the item on the table while it sought for a solution. Nationwide, I think all schools are faced with the same dilemma.
The prospects are not encouraging. Here or abroad. Let us take the case of India, one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical producers, for instance. Early this year, its authorities said a vaccine may be available by August 2020.
The India Academy of Sciences dismissed this as unrealistic, adding it raised false hopes among Indians. This is the same country that provided a much cheaper antidote to the SARs threat that affected Africa early on in this century. Its pharmaceutical companies are described as in the “front and center in the race” to supply the world with an effective product against COVID-19.
But as its academy indicated, “any hasty solution would compromise rigorous scientific processes and standards and would likely trigger adverse impacts on its citizens.”
In short, it added, the processes may take years to come out with a safe product.
The implication is clear. Much as President Duterte would wish it, there is no vaccine coming by the end of 2020. It is doubtful if a product is produced in 2021.
In short, Filipinos will have to learn how to cope with the pandemic by themselves.
In agriculture, we have good agricultural practices and organic farming as ideals. In government, we have good governance.
Against a faceless and invisible enemy, the best practices are our best defense. Stay home. Practice social and physical distancing. Wash the hands regularly. Avoid areas where people are known to gather. The birds are doing it without fail. Who knows we may not need a vaccine to survive after all?